Bethesda’s upcoming new IP Starfield is rumoured to be coming out later this year in holiday season 2021. When it does it’s almost certainly going to be as an Xbox ecosystem exclusive, and regardless will be available day one on Xbox Game Pass.
I do not think, however, that it will be released this year.
While there is evidence that it will be, such as the copyright notice being taken out on Starfield with the year 2021. This is typically aligning with the year the product is first published, and has been the case for previous Bethesda properties.
So why do I think it’s not going to be happening? Well, while Microsoft has arguably had somewhat of a first party dry spell in 2021 so far, for them to release Starfield and Halo in the same market window would be self-destructive.
Halo is huge, like it or not, a new Halo game, the first to release on the new gen console is massive. It’s also the twenty-year anniversary of Halo CE, after missing the initial launch of the Xbox Series X/S it’s very likely the newest game in the iconic franchise will drop on the anniversary day itself. This being the 15th of November.
A lot of Xbox’s marketing is going to be focused on making sure Halo gets the fanfare it deserves, anything else released around this time is likely to be ignored.
Starfield also has a huge hype, so if this were to release around the same time it’s going to pull some attention away from Halo.
I cannot see Microsoft squandering the buzz each of these projects have by releasing them in an overlapping market window. It doesn’t make sense to. We gamers only have so much time. So, while having two huge hits drop on Game Pass would show massive value for the service. It would rip the attention each game could get in half.
If these were two very different genres of game then I could understand. After all, I'm still optimistic that a new Forza Horizon entry is coming out this holiday season. And while many people do play both Halo and Forza, they are very different genres and built for very different demographics.
While we don’t know much about Starfield, we are pretty sure it’s Fallout in space. Or a space RPG anyway. There is only so much appetite for laser guns and spaceships at any given time.
I think Microsoft will be smart and give each game room to breathe. While in the future we can expect very regular releases of AAA games from Xbox owing to their twenty-three studios, for now they cannot afford to divide the hype that each of these games have by releasing at the same time.
I could be wrong, perhaps they’re banking on firing all their shots at once in the run up to Christmas in order to sell more consoles and Game Pass subscriptions. And after all, it’s not just Game Pass, plenty of people will be buying these games outright.
But I do think the smart money is on Starfield being pushed to first quarter 2022.
Alternatively, and this is a prediction I don’t think I can put much weight behind, but imagine. E3 in June, Tod Howard and Phil Spencer walk out on stage together to announce Starfield shadow dropping that very same day.
A mid-June release would give plenty of breathing room before Halo’s arrival in November. It would also put an end to the AAA dry spell that Xbox has been going through. The excitement would be unreal.
The more I think about it, the more I think this would be a fantastic move. Like Outriders dropping day one on Game Pass, and MLB the Show. This would be an out of nowhere extraordinary win for Xbox’s commitment to delivering great games this gen.
I do not think Starfield will be ready for E3, but then right now with Xbox it does seem like anything can happen. Whether it be E3 shadow drop or 2022, I do believe that we will not see Starfield’s release holiday 2021.
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